Are you just dreaming about a getaway by the beach? Or perhaps, you can envision yourself with a glass of wine at a cabin in the woods? Your preference of landscape; beach or woody mountains, may tell you more about your personality than you realize.
According to a new study by the psychologists at the University of Virginia, introverts and extroverts seek out different landscapes for their vacations, and they may even prefer different environmental settings when they choose a place to call home.
In a series of studies, University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi and colleagues Thomas Talhelm and Minha Lee found that extroverts prefer the beach to the mountains, while introverts favored the mountains over the beach.
Oishi designed the study in accordance with the hypothesis that people actively select certain surroundings to meet their personal values and desires. This is called the theory of “person-environment fit.” The study involved three experiments; we’ll take a look at each of these experiments in turn.
Extroverts And Introverts
It is well known by psychologists that extroverts enjoy arousing situations while introverts are drawn towards quieter and calmer environments. Research has discovered that extroverts have a more pronounced need for “affiliation”. Affiliation is being with, and talking to other people. Extroverts also enjoy attention from others and entertaining them; this is called “exhibition”. Introverts don’t require these things to feel fulfilled.
Mountains Are Quiet, Beaches Are Noisier
“We argue that beaches are typically noisier, with more people to watch, talk to, and hang out with than the mountains,” write the researchers. “In contrast, mountains offer many secluded places, which facilitate isolation.”
Oishi thus hypothesized that extroverts should feel more comfortable and happier in an open area while introverts are likely to flourish in more secluded places.
The First Experiment
Oishi and his colleagues requested that 921 undergraduates rate their personality using a standard questionnaire. The students were then met with the question: Do you prefer the ocean or mountains?
The researchers found that those individuals who had introverted personality types favored the mountains, while the extroverts preferred the beach.
The findings were further established through the use of a visual test. Oishi and his colleagues showed a smaller group of students six pairs of pictures of the ocean and the beach. The students were asked which place they would like to visit. Again it was found that the extrovert individuals displayed a strong preference for the ocean.
The Findings Of The Study Explained
It appears that the wooded or mountainous environments offer lesser opportunities for affiliation and exhibition, while the wide-open spaces of places like the beach give extroverts the opportunity to partake in affiliation and exhibition. The mountains are perfect for solitude and introspection, whereas the beach can be noisy and populated; making it great for partying and conversing.
The Second Experiment
In another experiment, the researchers analyzed a database with personality surveys of 613,000 people from the United States. The researchers did so to find out whether the geography of the state had any relationship with people’s tendency towards introversion or extroversion. They discovered that the people residing in flat states were more extroverted than the residents of mountainous areas in the United States.
It was still unclear, however, as to whether living in the mountains made people more introverted, or if introverted people chose to make their home in the mountains. To find out the answer the researchers performed one more experiment.
The Third Experiment
The researchers sent groups of students to either flat open areas or secluded wooded areas. The areas were all on the UVA campus. They then analyzed the participants’ extroversion and happiness levels.
The researchers found that introverts were more stressed in open spaces and more comfortable in the midst of trees.
Next time you are planning a getaway you may want to consider your personality type; introvert or extrovert, this way you can make sure that the landscape you choose to holiday in fits your needs and gives you maximum comfort.
Featured photo credit: Torreon via torreon.com